Human beings engage in behaviours such as lying, stealing, cheating, gossiping and others not knowing the harmful effects these have on their lives and others. While some of these anti-social behaviours are deliberate, others are inevitable. RALIAT AHMED writes on why people engage in some nasty and self-destructive attitudes.
A lie is when we say things that are untrue or a complete deviation from a real thing. It is a false statement deliberately presented as being true, thus misrepresenting a situation.
Nobody knows why humans lie so much, but studies have found that it is common, and that most times tied to deep psychological factors.
But a University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman says that, as soon as people feel that their self-esteem is threatened, they immediately begin to lie at higher levels.
Everybody lies and there is probably no single person who has ever lived who has not once in his life told a lie or misrepresented the truth, regardless of whether it was unintentional or not.
A lot is associated with lies. One is that people would lose faith in a person who lies because he had betrayed their trust which would be quite difficult to ever regain. It may cost the person his career, reputation and future. Damage like this is irrevocable.
In extreme situations, lies can also create turmoil, political upheaval, even war as people of one country are turned against those of another because wildly inaccurate information has been propagated and their feelings have been stirred.
It is said that it is not easy to tell a lie as lying takes 30 percent longer than telling the truth.
Stealing or taking what does not belong to you can be motivated by need. For kleptomaniacs, being a psychological disorder, stealing can be motivated by the sheer thrill of it. These are people who steal even though they can easily afford what they steal.
Apart from the fact that stealing is against the law, when caught, a person can be punished by being jailed or imprisoned. In some Arab countries, they cut off one hand of a thief as punishment.
Another negative effect of stealing is that people don’t like it when someone steals from them. They become angry and may seek revenge on the person who stole from them, provided they know who and can catch such thief.
Once a person has been branded as a thief, other people will no longer trust him or her. While the law often punishes the criminal, the thief can be ostracised by his society, when friends or close associates find out about his stealing.
Since the beginning of history, mankind has craved violence which has led some researchers to conclude that we crave it, that it’s in our genes and affects reward centers in our brains.
This is likely because of adrenalin even though it is supposed to be a survival hormone.
However, going back millions of years, evidence suggests our ancient human ancestors were more peace-loving than people today, though there are signs of cannibalism among the earliest pre-history humans.
A recent study concluded that humans seem to crave violence just like they do to sex, food, or drugs. The study, found that in mice, clusters of brain cells involved in other rewards are also behind their craving for violence.
The researchers think the finding applies to human brains. Many researchers believe violence in humans is an evolved tendency that helps with survival.
Aggressive behavior has evolved in species in which it increases an individual’s survival or reproduction, and this depends on the specific environmental, social, reproductive, and historical circumstances of a species. Humans however are said to rank among the most violent of species.
Violence in all its forms accounts for over 1.5 million deaths a year, 90% of which occur in low- and middle-income countries but beyond deaths and injuries, forms of violence such as child maltreatment, intimate partner violence, and elder maltreatment have been found to be highly prevalent.
Stress, a natural part of life is yet another destructive behavior that is peculiar to human beings. Apart from leading to depression, stress can increase the risk for heart problems and even cancer. It is difficult to finger what really causes stress but the office and workplace is said to be the major culprit or source of stress for most people.
According to the International Labor Organization, ILO, over 600 million people around the world put in 48-hour-plus of work weekly.
Increased stress hormones lead to memory impairment in the elderly and learning difficulties in young adults. Health experts, however suggest exercise and adequate sleep are two of the best ways to battle stress.
Yet a very destructive and almost an everyday behaviour, gossiping is a derogatory conversation about other people that often involves betraying confidence and spreading sensitive information or hurtful judgments.
Research shows that people who gossip the most have very high levels of anxiety and are generally not popular because they cannot be trusted. Spreading private information or negative judgments is painful to others.
While some gossip is inevitable, it is very unhealthy because spreading rumors or making claims that may or may not be true can have damaging affects on a person’s sense of self-worth and on their reputation.
People gossip for different reasons: to feel superior, out of boredom, out of envy, especially to hurt those whose popularity, talents, or lifestyle they envy, for attention or out of anger or unhappiness.
Whatever the reason for gossiping may be, it is certain that it can harm reputations and trigger a good deal of damage.